It's only been about a month since my first grad school application deadlines, not even 2 weeks since the later ones, and I'm already hearing back from some schools.
Out of 12 programs (yes, I applied to 12 programs, at 8 different schools), I've heard from 4. In chronological order:
1) UCSF flat out rejected me. To be honest, I wasn't surprised... one page of the application asked for all my letter grades from undergraduate in biology, chemistry, psychology, and other things I either did poorly in, or didn't even take. It can't be good when you declare you got a C- in the sole bio class you took in undergrad. My friends reassured me that my 93 percentile score on the Bio GRE should make up for it, but the page just looked TERRIBLE.
2) University of Washington (Molecular/Cellular Biology) was first to call for interviews. I'm heading to Seattle on Feb 8-11, then hanging out with college friends for a day before coming home.
3) This morning, Harvard Systems Biology contacted me for an interview. Lucky them, they don't have to transport or house me anywhere since I'm already in the Boston area. I'll be going out to dinner with other interviewees Jan 26, then having interviews on Jan 27 before the departmental evening party.
4) Minutes ago, I got a call from George Washington University (Microbiology/Immunology). I'm heading down to DC on Feb 16-18.
There are still 8 programs to hear from (one whose app deadline is Feb 1!), but already I've got interviews in 3 out of 4 cities that I was shooting for. Stanford, won't you call me too? You're my only hope in the Bay Area now that UCSF shot me down!
Of course, I still have to do well in the interview process before I actually am accepted, but it's really wonderful to know that I am indeed competitive in the field, even though I'm making a full switch from mechanical engineering. I feel very lucky to have had the opportunities that have come my way, and I am doing my best to take full advantage of them.